They may be teeny tiny, but the trend for shepherd’s hut stays is bigger than ever. Here’s our pick of the very best for a UK staycation.
From Borrower-sized and boutique, to high-end and hot tub-adjacent, shepherds’ huts – the glamping choice du jour – come in many shapes and guises. You’ll find them dotted all across the UK: standing in wide swathes of farmland, tucked away in bushy bee-filled gardens, or bracing themselves against the salty sea air on the coast. And while you might previously have thought that sleeping in a hut meant slumming it, many new openings are offering a fancier sort of stay – with underfloor heating, roll-top baths and floor-to-ceiling windows. Plus, with nature on your doorstep and the sense of solace that comes with a hut-shaped sleepover, it’s the perfect, peaceful way to staycation this season.
Here’s our round-up of the best shepherds’ huts in the UK.
The Fish, Cotswolds
This highly sought-after Cotswolds spot is part boutique hotel, part adventure hideout, with a firm focus on top-notch food and outdoorsy activities in the rolling picture-perfect countryside (you’ll find handy wellies for borrowing in the reception area). Accommodation ranges from luxury treehouses to bijou rooms in the main lodge, but it’s their shepherds’ huts, known as Hilly Huts, that get booked up
The USP – This is a great choice for food-lovers. The huts are just a short stroll from the main lodge, where you’ll find the marvellous laid-back-luxe Hook restaurant, serving up delicious dishes from Porlock Bay oysters and Fowey mussels, to hearty bouillabaisse and whole Cornish sole.
From £220 per night; thefishhotel.co.uk
The Merry Harriers, Surrey
In the sleepy village of Hambledon in Surrey, The Merry Harriers is a 16th-century inn with a difference: it has five luxury shepherd’s huts parked up in the garden – oh, and a handful of llamas that you can take on walks too. Set around a pond with views of nothing but greenery and the odd rabbit skittering past, this is proper switch-off territory (there’s limited phone signal too, if you need a little encouragement).
Inside, the brightly coloured huts are more spacious than they might first appear, with a large bed laden with cushions, a bathroom, kitchenette, cosy sheepskin-covered chairs and a log burner. The bed is designed so you can prop yourself up at either end for lazy evenings watching Netflix on the fold-out TV or cocooning yourself in the duvet to gaze out of the window with a good book. Outside, each hut has its own fire pit for evenings toasting marshmallows, and parking right next to your accommodation for the ultimate in laziness.
Head across the road to the pub for dinner in the traditional country inn (make sure to say hello to resident pub dog, chocolate lab Jake) for hearty classics such as fish and chips with chunky tartare sauce or, if you really can’t face leaving your little haven, you can order food direct to your hut.
As Covid-19 limits our choice for holidays abroad, the Merry Harriers shepherd huts are the perfect spot to hole up in during the winter months. Heated floors and the log burner ensure you won’t feel the cold when the rain is lashing the windows outside.
If you do decide to head out, being in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty there are plenty of walks nearby. The Devil’s Punchbowl, a 15-minute drive away, offers stunning views over the Surrey countryside as well as secluded woodland strolls.
The USP – The llamas, of course, but if you’re a gin fan head next door to The Village Spirit Collective, which runs ‘ginfluencer’ experiences (from £25), where you can learn about and taste the different botanicals that go into gin, then blend your own masterpiece to take home with you. Florist Cherfold Flowers, in the neighbouring warehouse, is also soon starting hand-tied bouquet workshops, making this the perfect location for hen-dos and birthdays.
Sleeps 2, dogs allowed, from £185 a night; merryharriers.com/accommodation/rooms/shepherd-huts/
Review by Jenny Tregoning, deputy production editor and food editor
From £195 per night on a B&B basis; merryharriers.com
The Victorian House, Lake District
With private riverbank views, luxury bedding, underfloor heating and superfast broadband, this handsome hut – in the grounds of the Gothic-style Victorian House hotel in Cumbria – is as comfy and romantic as they come. Mornings here come with awe-inspiring misty Lake District views and a chance to slide open the doors to your own private seating area, where you can tuck into a cooked breakfast by your fire pit and watch as clouds scud across the big skies.
The USP – Definitely the original Victorian roll-top tub in the bathroom – a far cry from the poky wet rooms and feeble showers that often come with shepherds’ huts
From £270 per night, on a B&B basis; victorianhousehotel.co.uk
The Red Sky at Bainland, Lincolnshire
In its own private gated garden, this is the ultimate spot for secreting yourself away and forgetting the rest of the world exists. You won’t want for anything here – whether that’s a fully-fitted kitchen (complete with a Belfast sink worthy of a farmhouse) a splendid chaise longue, a two person hammock on the decking, or a hot tub that is filled and temperature-ready for your arrival. In fact, the latter is the perfect spot to spend your evenings, as you lay back in the bubbles and gaze at a night sky free from light pollution and crammed with stars.
The USP – The huts at Bainland are totally dog-friendly and welcome two dogs per booking (furry friends even get their own welcome pack).
From £470 for a three-night stay; bainland.co.uk
The Wildflower Wagon, Hereford
OK, it’s more of a wagon that a shepherd’s hut, but the glamping vibe is still strong here. The only difference is that, instead of the rustic history that comes with a stay in a shepherd’s hut, this converted cabin is actually where circus showmen slept in the 1920s, and the design gloriously reflects that, from the authentic gold and green exterior to the velvet curtains, vintage stove and ornate woodwork inscriptions inside. But while the décor is historic, the comforts are unabashedly contemporary and you’ll find a fridge, an opulent double bed and even a rainforest shower inside. Outside, views stretch across fields and copses to the Black Mountains, and surrounding orchards and gardens are ripe with apples and wild herbs which can be picked and cooked up in your cosy kitchenette.
The USP – The surrounding network of countryside walking trails, ready for exploring. Keep your eyes peeled for goldfinches, woodpeckers and wildflowers
From £85 per night; Kiphideaways.com
The railway cabins at Settle, Norfolk
At Settle, three retired railway goods carriages have been sympathetically and painstakingly restored to create cosy-yet-luxurious lakeside retreats on a peaceful patch of woodland. This is the place to slow things down and switch off from the freneticism of everyday life. There’s little phone signal, no wifi and no TVs, and with little else to do but pootle about the forests, gaze at crackling fires and contemplate life, the universe and everything, a stay at one of these cabins – which all come with wood fires, well-stocked kitchens and decked terraces with fire pits – offers a prime opportunity to rejuvenate your mind and emerge more Zen than ever.
The USP – Super chic Scandi-minimalist interiors come courtesy of owners Jo, a floral designer and John, a property developer with his own salvage yard. Unsurprising, then, that things look so exquisite.
From £160 per night; settlenorfolk.co.uk
The Saltbox at Elmley Nature Reserve, Kent
At Elmley Nature Reserve on the north Kent coast, you can spot lapwings, marsh harriers, boxing hares and hunting barn owls, all from the comfort of a warm, fluffy duvet. Shepherds’ huts here, including the supremely good-looking Saltbox, come with floor-to-ceiling windows, meaning you can lie in your bed and soak up views across the endless wetland marshes. Each of the six huts has solid eco-credentials – the units are powered by solar, made from sustainable wood and insulated with green materials – and with fire pits, locally sourced food and acres of nature at your fingertips, you’ll forget you’re only an hour from London.
The USP – Nature is quite literally on your doorstep here. Elmley is the only National Nature Reserve in the country to offer overnight accommodation, meaning you can go to sleep to the sound of night-singing birds and wake to the cry of migrating geese.
From £115 per night; elmleynaturereserve.co.uk